Belated happy birthday!
I thank God that you are in good health despite the smoking. I think your system has been synthesized already. So, am not going to preach about the perils of it. After three decades of countless sticks and packs, I don't think your lungs can handle a hard stop.
I just pray that you will have time to enjoy your grand kids and a good life. Ma, we never grew in an environment where we were encouraged to openly express our emotions (except for rage -- remember, my teenage angst?) but I want you to know that you're unconditional love doesn't go unnoticed.
Please know that I cherish you in spite of our differences when I was younger. Now, I know better. Life has been hard but I hope to be given the opportunity to really make it better for you... if not today, in your twilight years.
I hope that in my little achievements, I have made you proud. My biggest fear growing up is to one day disappoint you by going home pregnant, out of wedlock. Being the only girl in my brood, I carried the torch. I think that at 34, it hardly matters. Not that I plan to be impregnated soon. *coy grin*
I may not agree so much with your parenting style but please know that you are dearly loved and cherished. I've questioned your decisions in the past. Looking back though, my conclusion is that you are just a very giving person. You're the most generous mother, sister, friend, and neighbor.
You never turn your back to anyone in need. Even if it would mean that your family will experience a temporary setback. You always weighed on the greater needs of others than of your own comfort.
Ma, I strive to be like you. One who exercises patience and put a lot of faith in people especially loved ones. You will always choose to see the rainbow when it comes to people's shortcomings.
For as long as I could remember, I've vowed to be never become like you. Yet today, I wish to live my life mirroring your good virtues.
Rearing six children is no small feat. And I salute you for fighting for your children. For paving the way for me so I can paint my own version of rainbow.
I love you, Mama.